What factors will a judge consider when deciding if the parents should have joint custody?
If one or both parent(s) are asking for joint legal custody, the judge is supposed to assume that joint legal custody is in the best interests of the child (but either parent can present evidence to the judge to change his/her mind.) However, if one parent has committed domestic abuse (as defined by law) against the other parent, the judge will assume that both joint legal and joint physical custody are not in the best interest of the child (but the other parent can still present evidence to try to change the judge’s mind and prove why s/he should get joint custody). In deciding whether or not the abusive parent has presented enough evidence to change the judge’s mind about joint custody, the judge will look at the nature and context of the domestic abuse; the implications of the domestic abuse on his/her ability to parent and its effect on the child’s safety, well-being, and developmental needs.1
1 Minn. Stat. § 518.17(1)(b)(9)